2009 NCAA Football Review, Pt. II: Disappointment, Unemployment, and Girlfriends
The college football regular season has flown by and is over. Fans are getting ready to watch their favorite team one last time if they were invited to a bowl game.
This is really not about those teams but there will be some bowl teams included. This is about those teams that did not live up to preseason expectations this season.
The following is also about the coaches that needed wins to save their jobs this season. For some coaches the writing was on the wall but for one it was written on a billboard.
So do not listen to how good you think your team was from your fat girlfriend. Put your taco down and don’t make your unintentional porn reference to early.
The 120th football season at Kansas looked, in the preseason, to be a special one. The Jayhawks started out the season winning their first five games.
Kansas had senior quarterback Todd Reesing and wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe returning this season. The offense had the potential to be one of the most explosive in the Big 12.
Scoring was not much of a problem for the Jayhawks but turnovers and a bad defensive unit were. The troubles did not end there for this program.
Before Kansas played Southern Mississippi news broke about a fight between the men’s basketball team and the football team. The Jayhawks would go on to beat the Golden Eagles and Iowa State after the fight.
This team would then start one of the worst losing streaks in the country starting with the Colorado game. As the losing continued current and former players began to speak out about head coach Mark Mangino.
Accusations of verbal and physical abuse were made by players about Mangino. The team kept losing and problems in the program that were once overlooked because of winning were not overlooked anymore.
Kansas would start the year winning five games and would end the year losing the next seven. After the fight and the allegations, Mangino resigned under pressure, after leading the Jayhawks to a Fiesta Bowl win two years ago.
Mangino was the 2007 Coach of the Year after that BCS bowl win and was the second winningest coach in Kansas history. He also is the only coach to lead the Jayhawks to three bowl wins.
The three bowl wins equaled the most bowl wins in school history before Mangino became the head coach. A once promising program now in shambles turns to former Nebraska star Tuner Gill to turn things around.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
After a narrow loss to Rutgers in last year’s Papa John’s.com Bowl, this was the year North Carolina State would break out. Tom O’Brien’s third year with the Wolfpack was supposed to be the turning point.
Returning preseason All-ACC quarterback Russell Wilson was going to lead NC State to new heights. Things started out badly for the Wolfpack in a 7-3 loss to South Carolina.
This team bounced back to win their next three games including a 38-31 win over Pittsburgh. Next came four straight losses for NC State.
The Wolf pack was spanked in two of those four games. The low point was a 21-point defeated to the Duke Blue devils. That game was followed up by a 32-point loss to Boston College.
NC State was able to right the ship with a win over a bad Maryland team before losing two more straight games. Even with no bowl trip in sight the high point for this team had to be an upset win over North Carolina to end the season.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
No coach faced higher pressure this season then Charlie Weis. Even before the season began, several boosters paid for a billboard that congratulated Weis on entering the fifth year of his college coaching internship.
This was on top of the thought that the Irish should win enough games to be invited to a BCS bowl game. Most experts believed that Notre Dame would have to win nine games for Weis to keep his job.
Notre Dame did not have the luck of the Irish early when bad coaching cost them a win over Michigan. Weis decided to throw the ball twice late in the game instead of making the Wolverines use their timeouts.
Michigan then was able to race down the field and score the game-winning touchdown with just seconds left. The Irish would bounce back with three straight wins including a win over Michigan State—a team the Irish had not beaten at Notre Dame Stadium since 1993.
Weis would feel the pressure once more after a close loss to USC at home. The Irish would bounce back with two straight wins. One of the wins being over Boston College—a team Notre Dame had not beaten since 2000.
The Irish would see any remaining luck they had run out after a win over Washington State. Notre Dame would lose their final four games of the season to finish with a 6-6 record.
Navy was able to beat the Irish for the second time in three years and the second time in a row at Notre Dame. Stanford’s Toby Gerhart was able to run wild over the Golden Domer’s defense.
Offense was not the trouble for the Irish who were never blown out in any of their losses. In fact the six Notre Dame losses were by a combined 28 points.
The losses to Connecticut and Pittsburgh, while close, did not help Weis out. His offense was good enough to win every game but his defense was only able to stop Nevada and the Cougars of Washington State.
After the season Weis was fired, the team voted not to go to a bowl game, and stars Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate declared for the NFL draft. The Navy loss seemed to have sealed Weis’ fate.
Notre Dame turned to Brian Kelly from Cincinnati to lead the Irish back to the top of the college football world. Coincidentally, the offense of the Bearcats was nearly unstoppable on their way to an undefeated season.
The Cincinnati defense was as weak as the Irish’s defense, but was able to make a few more plays. Do not be surprised to see this team with a ton of offense and little to no defense under Kelly as well.
Bob Stoops and Oklahoma fans might look back at this season and wonder what might have been. The Sooners seemed to be snakebitten before the season even began.
The bad luck started with a knee injury to tight end Jermaine Gresham that ended his season just days before the Sooners played their opening game. In the first game of the season right before the half, 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was injured.
Bradford returned to play against Baylor and Texas but was re-injured against the Longhorns. At various points in the season the Sooners were the walking wounded of college football.
Even with all the injuries Oklahoma did not lose to a team that did not finish with less than eight wins. The Sooners were only blown out in one loss and that was against Texas Tech.
To win seven games might have been the best coaching job Stoops has done while in Norman. This team played at a high level week in and week out and had a chance to win just about every game.
The only reason this team is a disappointment was the fact that, if healthy, they could have factored into the national title race. Still, to get to seven wins with all the injuries was quite an accomplishment.
Things have not been great in Ann Arbor the last two seasons after Lloyd Carr retired. After only winning three games in 2008, thoughts around college football circles were that Michigan should go bowling this season.
The Wolverines were flying high early in year No. 2 under coach Rich Rodriguez with four straight wins to open the season. Two of the wins were come-from-behind victories over Notre Dame and Indiana.
After Michigan defeated the Hoosiers the wheels fell off this team. The Wolverines would go on to lose seven of their last eight games. The lone victory for Michigan was over FCS team Delaware State.
This team started out by losing two close games against Michigan State and Iowa but by the end of the season they were being blown out of games. The low point could be either being spanked by a one-win Illinois team or a loss to Purdue in the Big House.
Rodriguez is 8-16 in two years at Michigan and the Wolverines have won just three Big 10 games. Coach Rich Rod might have to win 8-9 games and play in a New Year’s Day bowl if he hopes to be around for 2011.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa has been one of the benchmarks of Conference USA as far as winning. Only Southern Mississippi and Houston have had more winning seasons then the Golden Wave.
The last time the Golden Eagles had a losing season was 1993 and the last time Houston had a losing season was in 2004. Tulsa's last losing season was in 2004.
The Golden Hurricane had played in four straight bowl games as well. This team looked to be a lock to battle Houston for the C-USA West division.
While Houston was winning out-of-conference games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Mississippi State, Tulsa faced non-conference monsters.
The Golden Wave played Oklahoma and Boise State in out-of-conference games with a cupcake game against New Mexico. Tulsa struggled in conference as well, losing five conference games.
Last season this team won 10 games and played in the C-USA championship game. This season the Golden Hurricane was passed by surprise team SMU.
The 2008 version of this team was able to score points in bunches and won several shootouts. This year’s team, at times, scored a ton of points but could not keep up with opposing teams.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois was looking to bounce back from a 5-7 season in 2008 this season. A lot of the talent from the 2007 Rose Bowl team was returning for this team in 2009.
Things looked bright offensively for the Illini with quarterback Juice Williams and wide receiver Arrelious Benn back this season. The defense should have been solid as well for 2009.
Then the season started and Benn was injured, while Williams could not avoid turnovers and bad throws for Illinois. The Illini’s defense could not stop the opposing team’s offense to save their life.
Illinois started out the season 1-6, with their only win being over FCS team Illinois State. The offense could only muster 17 points in their six losses and the defense did not surrender less than 24 points in the losses as well.
As the losses began to pile up most experts and Illinois fans wondered if head coach Ron Zook would keep his job. Zook got a reprieve from the from the Illini Athletic director Ron Guenther.
Guenther said after a loss to Purdue that changes will be made at the end of the season but Zook will not be one of them. Illinois responded by winning their next two games over Michigan and Minnesota.
The Illini could not maintain their success after the wins as they dropped their final three games to finish the season at 3-9. Zook has always been a great recruiter but cannot seem to get the most out of the talent he brings in to Champaign.
Zook will have to get this team into a bowl game next season if he hopes to keep his job. The Illinois and Michigan jobs might be the two hottest seats in college football next season. Zook will have to do it without Benn who is leaving early for the NFL.
Coaches Fired, Forced Out, or Resigned in 2009
Charlie Weis and Mark Mangino were not the only coaches shown the door this season. The following are the coaches that were fired at some point this season:
Al Groh, Virginia Cavaliers
Groh and the Cavaliers had a habit starting out slowly and then coming on late in the season. This habit helped Groh to keep his job the past couple of seasons.
This season Virginia started out the season with an embarrassing loss to FCS team William and Mary. The Cavaliers also blew a lead to Southern Mississippi to start the season at 0-3.
This team would reel off three straight wins to get back to 3-3, but go on to lose their next six games to seal Groh’s fate.
Groh would finish with a 59-56 overall record and a 36-36 ACC record in seven seasons. Virginia hired Mike London to replace Groh in 2010.
Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville Cardinals
Kragthorpe built Tulsa into a winner as head coach but faced high expectations after taking over at Louisville after Bobby Petrino left for the NFL. The Cardinals were coming from a great run in the history of this program.
From 2002 to 2006 the Cardinals won at least nine games a year. When Kragthorpe took over, Louisville’s best season was his first at 6-6.
Kragthorpe was one coach who started the season on the hot seat and did not do much to help his case. After an opening win over Indiana State the Cardinals would go on to lose three straight.
Louisville would bounce back with a win over USM but then go on to lose two more games. The Cardinals would beat Arkansas State before losing a game and beating Syracuse.
This team would lose their last two games to finish 4-8 and in next to last place in the Big East. After being one of the fastest rising programs in college football Louisville was left in shambles after three seasons.
Kragthorpe was 15-21 overall and 5-16 in conference play in three seasons. The Cardinals turned to Charlie Strong to rebuild this program back to the level of the early 2000s.
Tommy West, Memphis Tigers
One might say that West overachieved a lot in his nine seasons at Memphis. He was able to take the Tigers to bowl games in five of his nine seasons.
Memphis is a team that does not have its own stadium instead playing in the Liberty Bowl. The Tigers football program has also been overshadowed by the basketball program.
2009 was a tough year for West and Memphis but his firing was somewhat of a surprise. The past two seasons this team did play in a bowl game.
Before West took over at Memphis the Tigers had gone to two bowl games in the history of the program. This was, without question, the best bowl run in Memphis football history.
West had an overall record of 39-61 and ripped the university in his final press conference. Memphis has turned the program over to Larry Porter.
Bobby Bowden, Florida State Seminoles
The sad state of college football was on display in Tallahassee this season. Bowden had done more for Florida State than any other coach before him.
Bowden was forced out even after all the great things he did for the university. He put the Seminoles on the map.
Florida State won two national titles under Bowden and owned the ACC Conference. While some coaches should be fired or forced out for bad seasons, Bowden has not had a losing season since his first year.
This is one of two coaches who should have been allowed to coach as long as he wanted to do so. Florida State should be ashamed of the way they treated this legend.
Bowden leaves Florida State second in wins in the FBS division. The coach-in-waiting, Jimbo Fisher, now takes over this program.
Other coaches to receive pink slips this season were:
David Elson, Western Kentucky .
The Hilltoppers turn to Willie Taggart for their second season in the Sun Belt Conference.
Charlie Wetherbie, Louisiana-Monroe
The War Hawks will be led by Todd Berry.
Mark Snyder, Marshall
Decided to cut ties after a 6-6 season. The Thundering Herd now hope John “Doc” Holliday can lead this team back to former greatness.
Dick Tomey, San Jose State
Retired after finishing the season at 2-10. The Spartans have hired Mike MacIntyre to try to lead a turnaround.
J.D. Brookhar, Akron
Relieved Brookhart and his staff after a 3-9 season. The Zips now give Rob Ianello the keys to the program.
Mike Stanford, UNLV
After five seasons and no bowl games the Running Rebels wanted to go a new direction at the end of the season. No replacement has been named.
Mike Leach Said What?
Coaches normally give all kinds of reasons why their teams lose games. Sometimes coaches blame injuries, turnovers, or maybe poor execution.
Mike Leach stirred up controversy after a 52-30 loss to Texas A&M. First, Leach put the blame on himself and the coaching staff.
Then Leach blamed another group of people for his team woes. Leach did not blame his players for the loss, but did blame someone associated with the players. Take a look at the video .
In our final installment we will look at teams and players who did not shoot their wad early. We will look at the best players this season who were not invited to New York for the Heisman.
Also, we will look at record-makers and record-breakers this season in college football. Plus, why Mark Ingram’s Heisman win might have handed the BCS title to the Texas Longhorns.
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